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Hospital pass: Multi-billion dollar promise to boost rail links fails to impress

The Palaszczuk Government is ramping up pressure for health funding reform while expressing  doubt about $3.9 billon of promised transport investment in the federal budget.

Mar 28, 2022, updated Mar 28, 2022
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath and her predecessor, Deputy Premier Steven Miles, are likely to face more pressure over Mackay Hospital's failures. (AAP Image/Jason O'Brien)

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath and her predecessor, Deputy Premier Steven Miles, are likely to face more pressure over Mackay Hospital's failures. (AAP Image/Jason O'Brien)

State Health Minister Yvette D’Ath on Monday urged the Morrison government to cover half of the state’s public health care bill ahead of Tuesday night’s budget.

She said the state currently covered 55 per cent of the bill but the Commonwealth needed to up its contribution.

“All the states and territories, regardless of their political persuasion, have been calling on the Morrison government, demanding a fair 50-50 funding split,” she told ABC Radio.

“We can’t control the growth in demand because [of] failures in the primary and allied healthcare system and the Medicare system.”

The public system has come under increasing pressure from an ageing population and shrinking numbers of private health insurance as more people turn to public hospitals.

The pandemic has added to capacity pressure with full PPE requirements for staff and Covid-19 isolation and quarantine requirements impacting the workforce.

“We know Covid will continue to put pressure on our health system,” Ms D’Ath said.

“I don’t think the general public realise that with our paramedics and with our health workers, simply because Covid exists, everything takes longer.”

People needing urgent care were still being seen within recommended times, the minister said.

However, patients who didn’t have acute or life-threatening conditions were waiting longer than they used to.

“We want people not having to wait for hours,” D’Ath said said.

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The state is also hoping for a major spend on the southeast’s public transport infrastructure to lay the groundwork for the 2032 Olympic Games.

Major rail projects for the Sunshine and Gold Coasts are set to get a boost with a $3.9 billion road and rail upgrade in the pipeline.

The Beerwah to Maroochydore rail extension has been given the green light with a $1.6 billion commitment to link Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast.

A further $1.12 billion has been earmarked for the Brisbane to the Gold Coast corridor faster rail upgrade.

However, Transport Minister Mark Bailey was sceptical of the funding boost.

He said the Morrison government had a patchy track record of delivering election promises.

“If it actually happens ..it’s a positive thing,” Mr Bailey told ABC radio.

“We know with the Olympics coming up, there’s going to be a whole lot of infrastructure challenges.”

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